André Almeida
What's the difference between "only one" and "single"? Let's use this sentence as example: "You are the only one who is able to do that." Could I use "single" in replace of "only one"? Help me about distinguishing only one and single. When do I use "single" instead of "only one"? Thank you very much.
Feb 10, 2016 3:08 PM
Answers · 4
They are grammatically different. '[The] only one' is a noun phrase, while 'single' is an adjective. In your example, 'the only one' means 'the only person'. An adjective, such as 'single', can never replace a noun. The word 'single' has to qualify a noun, for example, 'the single reason'.
February 10, 2016
No, because you want a noun or pronoun there, which "only one" is, and "single", being an adjective, isn't. (Well, there is "single" as a noun meaning an unmarried person, but that doesn't apply here.) You could however say "you are the single person ...".
February 10, 2016
Still haven’t found your answers?
Write down your questions and let the native speakers help you!
André Almeida
Language Skills
English, Portuguese
Learning Language